30th April 2020 – UK PM Boris Johnson decides to endorse face mask use after months of government dithering.

A Blog by Dr David J Flavell PhD FRCPath & Dr Sopsamorn (Bee) Flavell BSc PhD
Scientific Directors of Leukaemia Busters

30th April 2020

Hallelujah on Face Masks!

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson decides to endorse face mask use after months of government dithering.

At last! This evening we heard UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson at his first daily No 10 briefing since recovering from his COVID-19 illness, endorse the likely positive value of face mask use in public spaces after lockdown is eased. It was telling that neither of the two medical/scientific advisers present was invited to give their view on the PM’s statement, they remained strangely silent.

We’ve been campaigning since the beginning of the month (see our various blogs on this: Unmasking the Myths , Face Mask Dithering!More on Face Masks and  Yet More on Face Masks) on this very issue and all we’ve heard from the scientific advisers and various ministers at the podium, during the PM’s absence, was that the evidence for their benefit is WEAK and that the government whilst keeping it under review were not endorsing their use. What a sudden about-face!

What brought on this abrupt change of heart?

Was it pressure from our little campaign, others campaigns or rifts and disagreements between SAGE members that brought about a tectonic shift in attitude from within the heart of government?

We doubt there was any new evidence because we know that good evidence for face mask use in influenza already existed but nobody seemed prepared to acknowledge that.  Perhaps then it was an epiphany moment for the PM following his near death experience in ICU that did it. Whatever the cause we seem to have arrived at a much better position where this strategy is now much more likely to be adopted and it will we’re certain help reduce the virus transmission rate in the community.

But now where do we go from here now that this has finally been said by the top man in government?

Who is going to be responsible for taking the necessary steps to ensure that this will actually happen without there being a mad scramble for face mask purchase by the public when these are likely to fall into short supply as demand suddenly increases?

Clearly something will need to be done on the supply issue in a timely manner in readiness to meet that demand. As we suggested in our blog yesterdayYet More on Face Masks on this subject one solution would be the supply of high specification 3-layer washable reusable face masks as used in many Far East countries.

We’ve even done some of the leg work for the government and identified one supplier that still has the capacity to supply the UK with at least some for the very modest cost of 67 pence per mask. Better hurry up though UK government, global demand for these will increase as time passes and more countries come out of lockdown.

We stand ready to help with our modest resources and determined attitude. All you have to do is ask and we’ll spring into action on behalf of everyone in Britain.   

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